This was predestined to be a low-key Christmas. In fact, the most low-key Christmas either of us had ever experienced. When I was young, we would gather as a family and open mountains of presents before our grandparents came and joined in the fun. Jen’s experience of Christmas as a little girl was no different. Since we started dating over ten years ago, our two families have merged and we have always made the holidays the grand event it should be. Since it’s just the three of us here in Italy, we knew this year would be small in comparison. But at the same time, we were eager to set our own family traditions now that Julia is old enough to understand what’s going on.
Our low-key Christmas
We developed a plan based on our vision of how we wanted the day to unfold (OK, OK. Jen’s vision… Jen’s plan. I just helped when possible). Fortunately, our low-key Christmas did not disappoint. First we had to set up the tree, which we did well before the big day. We capped that evening off with popcorn (a real treat for Julia) and a movie (The Polar Express). Continue reading Buon Natale (Merry Christmas)→
Can you believe that they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in Italy?! They also don’t celebrate the Fourth of July, Memorial Day or Labor Day! I know weird, right?!
Our Thanksgiving table is set
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Of course I love the spirit of Christmas, the fun costumes of Halloween (another holiday that they don’t really celebrate), the fireworks of our Independence Day… but nothing can match the guilt-free ability to gorge on delicious food all…day…long! And if that wasn’t good enough, you are then permitted… nah, encouraged to lay on your duff and watch football until it’s time to re-heat a plate of leftovers. Continue reading Thanksgiving in Italy→
Before Jen blindsided me so many months ago with the suggestion that we move to Italy, I never thought I would know how to make grappa. Honestly, I never thought that I would ever even like grappa! But like so many other things I swore I’d never change about myself, living in Italy has transformed that part of me (keep an eye out for me sporting a “puffy” coat this winter – a style I hated when I first moved here and now think is the coolest thing to come of the runways of Milano).
A selection of grappa offered in a restaurant in Lago Maggiore
Grappa is an alcoholic beverage that is served in Italy as a digestivo (digestive) after a meal. We have learned that Italians take the digestion of their meals very seriously and have structured the order of eating in such a specific way as to aid in the digestion. A full blown Italian meal will include the following: Continue reading Learn How To Make Grappa At Home→
When our friends, Nathan and Danielle had come to visit this past spring – Danielle pointed at a unique outdoor-oven-with-a-chimney-thingy in a neighbors yard and asked what it was. I replied with all the confidence in the world that it was an Italian-style BBQ, but in reality I wasn’t positive. I had seen the smoke billowing through the chimney and I had seen many of these things in other neighbors yards – but I had never inquired about it. I asked my “go-to guy for all things Italian”… Jen’s uncle, Franco. He confirmed that it was in fact a BBQ and a fairly typical one in Italy. So, my educated guess was right. Whew!
Classic Italian style outdoor grill
I noticed shortly thereafter that the typical gas Weber grills we’re accustomed to using in the States are non-existent here. In fact, it’s possible you may see a round charcoal grill – but more often than not, it’s one of these large, permanent fixtures that people use to grill. Continue reading Step Aside… It’s Time to Grill!→
Julia has officially been our favorite little peanut for two years now! It seems like just yesterday that we were having fun at her first birthday party in DC and only a blink before that when she first held my hand in the hospital delivery room. And now it was already time for another birthday!
Our birthday girl one year ago
What a difference a year makes!
Also, what a difference a country makes – birthday cake last year, tiramisu this year!
Jen’s parents and sister were happy they were here for the big day. We’d already had tons of fun together, which you can read about HERE. We had just gotten back from a trip to Abruzzo the day before (HERE) and we had to make quick work getting everything together for her party. It was going to be low key – just some family over for a few snacks and cake. If you know my wife and mother-in-law, you’ll know that “low key” was not easy for them. Dominic and I had to keep reminding them it was just a small gathering – no need for their always impressive party-planning skills to be put to the test. Continue reading Our Piccola Principessa Turns Two→
I recently realized that our “Home Cooking” section of the blog was growing the slowest throughout the entire site. I’m only partly ashamed to admit that the one consistent about our trip is that we’ve been indulging in some of the most amazing food we’ve ever had. However, my OCD recently kicked in when I noticed all our food posts landed in the “Restaurant” or “Jen’s Kitchen” sections. So, in an effort to right this wrong… here is one very memorable home-cooked meal we hosted a little while ago.
Eugenio brought a wonderful Champagne
Jen has a warm and wonderful family, with whom we love spending time. Recently, her cousin Eugenio drove from Torino to spend time with us and get reacquainted with Julia. He brought his lovely girlfriend, Barbara as well.
You may have recently read HERE about our trip to the Dolomiti (Dolomite Mountains) to visit Franco and Claudia over Easter weekend. What I wasn’t able to fit into that post, was all the imagery we captured of the most spectacular mountain range we have ever seen.
Hilltop view – I had to trespass to get this shot
Mountain view from “Claudia’s” bridge in Canale D’ Agordo
We extended our trip in Canale D’ Agordo (Claudia’s hometown) by a day, because the three days we planned was barely enough to just scratch the surface in this region of Italy. Claudia wanted to show us not only her town of Canale D’ Agordo, but also the surrounding towns. We would like to now share them with you. Continue reading Dolomiti e Una Macchina Fotografica→
This year we took full advantage of living in Italy and went to the Pope’s Church for Easter! Only, it wasn’t in Vatican City and it wasn’t the current Pope. But it was still his church! If I may explain…
Jen and Julia in front of the church in Canale D’ Agordo
If you’ve read a few posts (or know us), you’ll know that we’ve been fortunate enough to live in Jen’s parent’s condo while in Italy. Even more fortunate is that Jen’s Zio (Uncle) Franco and Zia (Aunt) Claudia live above us. This means we’re eaten countless meals upstairs (she’s a wonderful cook), have built in baby sitters, tour guides and translators… basically we have a third set of parents and new besties. Continue reading Easter in the Pope’s Church→